Northern politicians contacted by PSNI leader following murder of David Amess
The 18 Northern MPs have been contacted by PSNI Police Chief Simon Byrne about their personal safety following the alleged terrorist assassination of Tory MP David Amess, Stormont Justice Minister said.
Stormont MPs and local councilors are also expected to be consulted on possible increased security measures for politicians in the region, as UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has launched a UK-wide review .
Northern Justice Minister Naomi Long said a balance must be struck between protecting elected officials and allowing them to perform their duties.
“The Chief of Police has contacted MPs following what happened in England, to talk to them about their safety and personal safety, and he is also making contact with MPs and advisers,” she declared.
âI think as elected officials we want to be accessible, we want to be accessible and it’s very difficult to balance that (while) trying to protect yourself and your staff and the other people who are with you. “
Ms Long told the BBC’s Sunday Politics that there was an “initial conversation going on what can be done, to try and keep people safe, but at the same time not locked away from people. with which they must engage “.
DUP East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson said he and other party colleagues were contacted by “a number of senior PSNI officials” on Saturday and that the process would extend to 90 MPs in the Assembly as well as to the advisers.
But he warned that politicians cannot be “fully pampered” by the public they are elected to represent.
“There is this incredible tension between the need to be accessible, maintaining this relationship with those who elect us, our constituents, being in public, attending public events and maintaining security,” he said. .
âYou can provide an added level of security and a certain sense of reassurance, but the point is that in the course of our day-to-day lives something of this nature – I hope it never happens – could happen in any context. “
Mr Robinson said part of the security analysis could focus on high-profile events or events announced in advance âthere is nothing that can achieve total security and even try to reaching that point erects a huge barrier between you and your constituents and I don’t think that’s healthy in our democracy.
The multiple stab wounds by Mr Amess, an MP for Southend West, on Friday during a constituency operation at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-On-Sea in Essex, were “totally outrageous” and “a huge deal. stain on our democracy, âRobinson said. .
But he added that “you can’t isolate yourself, you can’t be fully pampered.”
Mr Robinson and Ms Long both expressed ‘solidarity’ with Northern Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon after it was reported that she was reviewing her security arrangements amid intimidation of protesters anti-vaccine.
Ms Mallon told the Sunday Independent that four protesters visited her office and filmed an incident, which she described as a “very heartbreaking” and “very frightening” experience.
“We are reviewing our security arrangements,” she said.
Ms. Long said it was “absolutely heinous that people bully and threaten her for trying to protect the public in a time of crisis.”
“It is absolutely shameful,” she added.
Ms. Long said she had also had to review her own personal safety arrangements in recent weeks.
âIt is an uncomfortable thing to be told that you are in danger or that your life is threatened,â she said.
âThis is not the first time that this has happened. I have personally had a series of these experiences, the first 19 years ago. I have been in politics for 20 years and the first death threat I received was 19 years ago.
“So it’s not something that just happened, it’s been happening for a long time.”
PSNI Acting Deputy Chief Constable Melanie Jones confirmed she had started “contacting local MPs in Northern Ireland” as part of Operation Bridger, which was put in place after the murder by Labor MP Jo Cox in 2016 to increase security for MPs in their homes and offices. .
“We are in the process of contacting our local MPs and will continue to support them by providing them with crime prevention and personal safety advice on an ongoing basis,” she added.
“We encourage all of our elected officials to immediately report any safety concerns to the police to ensure their safety, the safety of their staff and members of the public attending surgeries.”